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Hainaut (Province, Belgium)


Last modified: 2018-04-07 by ivan sache
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Unofficial flag of Hainaut, in the two proportions in use (1:1 and 2:3) - Images by Geraard Van der Vaart & Ivan Sache, 20 March 2006

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History of the County of Hainaut

The County of Hainaut, originally known as pagus hainoeusis was one of the four main parts of Lotharingia, along with the Duchy of Brabant, the Duchy of Luxembourg and the County of Namur.
The oldest known Count of Hainaut, Gilbert, abducted Ermangarde, the daughter of Emperor Lothair I (840-855) c. 846 and was "awarded" the County of Hainaut as his fief. His successors progressively increased the County by marriages and purchases. Reginar I Long-Neck (850-915) 915) owned several domains in Ardenne, Hainaut, Hesbaye, Brabant and Darnau. He shared his domain between his two sons; the elder son Gilbert was granted Lower-Lotharingia, whereas Reginar II was granted the County of Hainaut and married Adelaide, the daughter of the Duke of Burgundy. Regniar III (910-973) revolted against German Emperor Otto I (962-973, the founder of the Holy Roman Empire) and was exiled to Bohemia. His two sons Reginar IV and Lambert of Leuven attacked in 973 Count of Hainaut Renaud in Péronnes-les-Binche and seized the fortress of Boussoit. Emperor Otto II (973-983) expelled them but they attacked Mons the next year. In order to pacify the area, Otto III (996-1002) reestablished in 998 the County of Hainaut, with, however, a much smaller territory.

Reginar IV (945-1013) married around 996 Hedwig, the daughter of King of France Hugh Capet (987-996). Reginar V (998-1048) married in 1016 Mathilde of Verdun, daughter of Count Herman of Lotharingia; her dowry included the march of Eename, that is the banks of the Scheldt down to Lessines and Condé, Ronse, Aalst and a great part of Brabant. Their son Herman married c. 1036 Richilde and got back the County of Valenciennes. After Herman's death, Richilde married Baldwin VI of Flanders, who became also Baldwin I of Hainaut, and the two Counties of Hainaut and Flanders were united.
Baldwin I died around 1070; Countess Richilde's power was challenged by her brother-in-law Robert the Frisian, who defeated her in Cassel on 22 February 1071. In 1085, Baldwin II of Jerusalem set up an alliance with Robert, allocating Flander to Robert and Hainut to Baldwin. Baldwin was soon challenged by his vassal Thierry of Avesnes, who seized Maubeuge; the Count of Flanders took the opportunity to attack Hainaut and seized Douai. In order to raise funds for the First Crusade, Baldwin II sold Couvin to the Bishop of Liège.
His sson and uccessor Baldwin III set up an alliance with German Emperor Henry IV (1084-1106), with Count of Leuven Godfrey I the Bearded and Count of Holland against Robert II of Flanders. The alliance was defeated and Flanders incorporated Douai, Tournai and the province of Cambrésis.

Baldwin IV the Builder (1109-1171) purchased Ath from Gilles de Trazegnies in 1148 and built the Burbant tower. The St. Waudru's chapter of Mons ceded him Braine-la-Willotte, which was renamed Braine-le-Comte, in 1158. The domains of Chimay and Valenciennes were incorporated to Hainaut in 1159 and 1160, respectively.
Baldwin V the Courageous married in 1169 Margaret of Flanders and reunited Hainaut and Flanders as Count Baldwin VIII. He became also Count of Namur as Baldwin I; following a compromise with Count of Luxembourg, Namur became a Marquisate in 1194.
Baldwin VI (Baldwin IX of Flanders) went on the Fourth Crusade in 1202. After the seizure of Byzantium by the Crusaders in 1204, Baldwin was elected Emperor of Constantinople. In 1205, he was captured by the Bulgarians and died in jail. He was succeeded by his sister Margaret of Constantinople, who married Bouchard of Avesnes and then William of Dampierre (1278-1305). Margaret declared that her two sons were illegitimate; after years of conflict, King of France Louis IX (1226-1270) was appointed mediator and granted Flanders to William of Dampierre and Hainaut to John I of Avesnes, who died in 1257, long before his mother. Margaret eventually recognized her grand son John II of Avesnes as her legitimate heir and Count of Hainaut.
During the so-called "War of the Rounds" set up by a clan of Ath, John II incorporated the County of Brabant, including Ath, Condé and Leuze. John was succeeded by his junior son William I the Good (1287-1337), who married in 1305 Joan of Valois, niece of King of France Philip the Handsome (1285-1314) and sister of King of France Philipp VI (1328-1350). He sold Mirwad to Count of Luxembourg John the Blind (1296-1346) and took Thuin from the Prince-Bishop of Liège. Count William IV of Bavaria took the French party and died in 1417 after having been wounded by his dogs during a hunting party. In 1428, his single daughter Jacqueline of Bavaria was forced by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, to transfer him Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland and Friesland.
[Cercle Heraldus de Mons]

Ivan Sache, 20 March 2006

Flag of the Province of Hainaut

The Province of Hainaut still does not have an official flag and uses a square or rectangle (2:3) banner of its arms, "Quarterly, 1. and 4. Or a lion sable armed and langued gules, 2. and 3. Or a lion gules armed and langued azure", that is quartered Flanders and Holland.
The thin black line dividing the four fields or quarters is clearly visible on real flags. See for instance in the Flemish weekly Knack No. 3 (13/19 August 2003, weekend supplement) a colour picture of various flags on the Drapers' Hall, Town Square, Tournai.

Ivan Sache, Pascal Vagnat & Jan Mertens, 20 March 2006

Colours of the Province of Hainaut

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Unofficial colours of Hainaut - Images by Mark Sensen, 27 January 2001

The Province of Hainaut used, unofficially, colours taken from the arms. These colours were not fixed.
A chart called Vlaggen der Belgische Provincies - Drapeaux des Provinces Belges (Flags of the Belgian Provinces; not dated, but to judge from the font type used, from the 1920s-1930s) shows a flag horizontally divided red-yellow.
Some Dutch atlases and books about the provinces show another design, published by Rudi Koot in Vexilla Nostra [vxn]#185 (1993) p. 32-33, as horizontally divided red-yellow-blue.

Mark Sensen, 6 February 2001

Honorary flag of the Governor of Hainaut


Honorary flag of the Governor of Hainaut - Image by Mark Sensen, 27 January 2001

The honorary flags of the Province Governors were adopted by Council Order on 28 October 1936. They are shown with construction details on a book (bilingual Dutch and French) containing regulations (for the Navy?). Each flag is a square version of the Belgian national flag with the respective province arms in the center of the black stripe. The flag is 150 x 150 cm, therefore each stripe is 50 cm in width. The shield is 43.5 cm in width and 50 cm in height, excluding 3.75 cm for the point of the shield.

Mark Sensen, 27 January 2001

Proposal for the flag of Hainaut


Proposal by Léon Nyssen - Image by António Martins, 7 March 2018

Léon Nyssen, Editor of Vexillacta [vxl], proposed a flag for the Province of Hainaut to the Provincial authorities on 30 October 2001.
The proposal was described in Vexillacta #15 (March 2002) by Pascal Parent in a paper entitled Deux projets de drapeaux rejetés : Provinces de Hainaut et Liège (Two rejected proposals of flags: Provinces of Hainaut and Liege).
The flag proposal is a transposition of the provincial arms. It is in proportions 2:3; the left half of the flag is vertically divided yellow-black-red whereas the right half of the flag is horizontally divided yellow-red-blue.
On 6 December 2001, Governor Michel Tromont informed Léon Nyssen that the Permanent Deputation (the executive government) of the Provincial Council, during its meeting of 15 November 2001, had rejected the proposal and had decided to keep the banner of arms as the unofficial flag of Hainaut.

Ivan Sache, 22 March 2002